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to accept." Both stations were declined. "There may," he answered Jay, "arise a crisis when I shall feel myself bound once more to sacrifice the interests of my family to the public weal, but I must defer the change as long as possible. I do not think of a person to recommend adapted to the emergency. I shall reflect, and consult, and write you by the next post."
Jefferson, in the mean time, was speculating on the probable defection of his partisans; deprecating the genius of Hamilton; soliciting subscriptions for the “Aurora;" sneering at the X. Y. Z. fever; denouncing the President. All his letters depict his extreme alarm, his insensibility to the national honor-his active, persevering, subtle machinations. "Private letters," he writes Madison on the fifth of April, "from France assure us, that France, classing us in her measures with the Swedes and the Danes, has no more notion of declaring war against them than us. * You will see a letter in Bache's paper of yesterday which came addressed to me." This letter was from Talleyrand. What reflections it suggests!-The Vice President of the United States in private correspondence with the Minister of a power warring on American commerce, using his advices to check the public indignation at her wrongs, and to obstruct measures of defence, protection, vindication.
"Still the fate of Sprigg's resolutions," he adds, "seems in perfect equilibrio. You will see in Fenno two numbers of a paper signed 'Marcellus.' They promise much mischief, and are ascribed, without any difference of opinion, to Hamilton.* You must, my dear sir, take up your pen against this champion. You know the ingenuity of his talents, and there is not a person but yourself can foil him. For heaven's sake, then, take up your pen, and do not desert the public cause altogether." "The first impressions," (made by the despatches,}
* They were not Hamilton s.
he wrote the next day, "with the people will be disagreeable, but the last and permanent one will be, that the speech in May is now the only obstacle to accommodation, and the real cause of war, if war takes place. And how much will be added to this, by the speech of November, is yet to be learned. It is evident, however, on reflection, that these papers do not offer one motive the more for going to war."
Again he unbosoms himself:
"The public mind appears still in a state of astonishment. There never was a moment in which the aid of an able pen was so important to place things in their just attitude. On this depend the inchoate movements in the Eastern mind, and the fate of the elections in that quarter, now beginning and to continue through the summer. I would not propose to you such a task on any ordinary occasion. But, be assured, that a well-digested analysis of these papers would now decide the future turn of things, which are at this moment on the creen." As a motive, he suggests, the "checking the rising spirit of New England, and beating up the party of Jay in New York."
Before the publication of these despatches, on the second of April, Madison wrote to Jefferson, condemning the Government for having made no disclosure of their contents. Jefferson, in reply,† calls the requisition for money, a demand of "submission to a heavy amercement," (upwards of a million sterling) and says the imputation made by France on her supporters, was "the bait which hurried the opposite party into this publication."
The contents of these despatches being known, Madi
April 6-April 11, Jefferson wrote, "Demands have been made of a large some of money from us as a mulct or satisfaction for the President's speech." Bonaparte at St. Helena states, "Certain intriguing agents, with which sort of instruments the office of Foreign Affairs was at that period abundantly supplied, insinuated that the demand of a loan would be desisted from, upon the advance of 1,200,000 francs, to be divided between the Director Barras and the Minister Talleyrand."
son changed his tone, and fell in with Jefferson's view. He answers vehemently:
"The injustice seems equal to the temerity of publishing such a libel on the French Government. I am sorry to learn that the Naval bill is likely to be carried, and particularly that any of our friends should, by their leaving Congress, be accessory to it." He adds, that he is getting up petitions. "The sanguinary faction," he again writes,† "ought not however to adopt the spirit of Robespierre without recollecting the shortness of his triumphs and the perpetuity of his infamy. The contrivance of Jay for reproducing Hamilton into office, suggests, no doubt, a variety of conjectures. If the contrivance is to be ascribed to Jay, it probably originates in the alarm with which the consequences of the treaty have thrown its author, and the new demand of the services of its champion. Events have so clearly demonstrated the great objects of that treaty to have been, to draw us into a quarrel with the enemies of Great Britain, and to sacrifice onr navigation to hers, that it will require greater efforts than ever to screen the instrument and the author, much longer, from the odium due to them." He declined Jefferson's proposal to "analyze the despatches," who urges subscriptions to newspapers, which "totter for the want" of them. "If these papers fall, republicanism will be entirely brow-beaten."
Amid all their extenuation of France, and imputations on the adversaries they so intensely hated, still these men trembled before the advancing tide of public opinion:
"The spirit," Jefferson writes to Madison, "kindled up in the towns is wonderful. These and New Jersey are pouring in their addresses, offering life and fortune. Even these addresses are not the worst things. For indiscreet declarations and expressions of passion may be pardoned to a multitude acting from the impulse of the moment. But we cannot expect a foreign nation to show that apathy to the answers of the President, which are more thrasonic than the addresses Whatever chance for peace might have been left us after the publication of the despatches, is completely lost by these answers. Nor is it France alone, but his own fellow-citizens against whom his
threats are uttered." Madison chimed in. "The President also seems," he writes Jefferson, "to be co-operating for the same purpose. Every answer he gives to his addresses unmasks more and more his principles and views. His language to the young men of Philadelphia is the most abominable and degrading that could fall from the lips of the first magistrate of an independent people, and particularly from a revolutionary patriot."
Jefferson deeply felt the necessity of a pliant coadjutor in the House of Representatives as a substitute for Madison. "Home sick and heart sick," as he describes himself, he wrote to Monroe:
"In order to place yourself on the high ground you are entitled to, it is absolutely necessary that you should reappear on the public theatre, and take an independent stand, from which you can be seen and known to your fellow-citizens. The House of Representatives appears the only place which can answer this end, as the proceedings of the other House are too obscure. Cabell has said, he would give way to you, should you choose to come in; and I really think it would be expedient for yourself, as well as the public, that you should not wait until another election, but come to the next session. No interval should be admitted between this last attack of enmity† and your reappearance with the approving voice of your constituents, and your taking a commanding attitude."
Monroe did not comply.
To weaken the effect of the late despatches, misrepresentation was combined with sophistry. "No more," it was said, "is asked, than that we should purchase sixteen millions of Dutch 'Inscriptions,' and thus secure compensation to more than quadruple that amount for the depredations which would also be intermitted; and the operation was safe, because the United States had in their debt to Holland an abundant pledge." What pledge? The
Answer from Lancaster (Pennsylvania) alluding to Monroe.
creditors of the United States were the private citizens of the Batavian Republic. Their demands could not be opposed by a claim of our Government upon their Government. The indemnity could only be obtained by a violation of all public policy and faith, and of the express stipulations in the contracts for the loans.
It would be a master-stroke in the Democratic policy, if it were possible, to divert the attention of the people. With this intent, a recent order of England, which, in effect, enlarged the privileges of neutrals,* was brought in aid. A public meeting was called at New York, to consider the necessary means of redress. At this meeting Burr appeared, and was appointed to prepare a memorial to Congress, praying them to take effectual measures against the only government which was then resisting a common enemy.
It was the singular fortune of the Federalists, that, while exerting themselves to preserve a strictly neutral position between the great belligerent powers, to which England had the strongest motives, their counsels were so often embarrassed by the conduct of that power. Thus, at this moment, when every effort was being made to change the policy of France, and to assure to American commerce, safety on the seas, it was harassed and despoiled by British cruisers. Hamilton felt deeply the thus aggravated wrong. He called upon the Cabinet, and with difficultly suppressed resentment, also wrote to the American Minister at St. James, at the earliest moment.
"It is a great while since I received a line from you, nor indeed have I deserved one; the vortex of business in which I have been, hav
* This order (January, 1798,) permitted neutral vessels, not only to transport the produce of the colonies of her enemies to their own countries, but to Great Britain herself, but its purport was then unknown. It was represented as warranting extensive depredations